Eight Queer Cozy Baking Mysteries I Wish Existed

A swirly background in blues, oranges, and golds. The words HOLIDAYS 2022 are on torn gold paper, along with the Autostraddle logo.

Holigays 2022 // Header by Viv Le

There is something that captivates me about cozy mysteries. My earliest memories of them are learning about them as a child from my friend who was obsessed with this one where a cat helped solve mysteries. I remember her describing in detail a plot point from one of them where a ceramicist couple used the blood of the people they murdered to color their clay red? I am now, knowing what I know of ceramics, pretty sure that would not work. It seems along the lines of like, a neat fictional idea that doesn’t hold up to real life materials, much like the Conan the Barbarian method of quenching a sword in snow which would be, as I understand it and this sword-making forum have informed me, pretty ineffective because the trapped air would not allow it to absorb enough heat. But if it’s one thing sword and sorcery stories and cozy mysteries have in common, it’s a willingness to stretch credulity for the sake of a satisfying plot and just a piling on of characterization and detail. Plus, they tend to contain recipes! One thing though — between the vampires who own bakeries and the women too busy with their small cupcake catering businesses for romance, and the murders that somehow often involve baked goods — there just aren’t enough queers. So, I thought I would fix that, and make most of these holigay-themed, too, as a treat.


Aces, Anise and Arson by Valerie Pearlman

The cover of Aces Anise and Arson by Valerie Pearlman. The cover features a Black woman with long braids in a bun, wearing a red sweater and holding a plate of cookies. She has her lips pursed together in surprise. Below a line of anise seeds, the book's title emerges, wrapped in illustrated flames. The sapphic sweets logo also appears.

I also make this face when I accidentally start fires in my kitchen.

Evelyn is the one who bakes the cookies. Every year, during the holidays, that’s her thing. Evelyn has a lot of love to give — and she shows it to her sprawling network of friends and neighbors by baking literal hundreds of Christmas cookies every year and hand delivering them, all wrapped in cute little boxes. Just a few days before Christmas, she’s making her neighborhood rounds when she sees smoke coming out of a three-floor apartment house just down the street. In the aftermath of the investigation, Evelyn starts to put two and two together over icing sugar cookies and pressing thumbprints into dough — there have been at least four fires recently, and she thinks that all of the buildings are owned by the same landlording company. Is there something even more nefarious going on in Evelyn’s neighborhood than rapid gentrification? Evelyn’s always been content to ignore cuffing season — but this year, she’s ready to turn in her apron for a citizen detective’s uniform.

Contains Evelyn’s famous dozen cookie recipes! That’s right! All 12!


Holidays, Heists, and Hashish Brownies by Alice B. Tokes

The cover of Holidays, Heists and Hashish Brownies by Alice B. Tokes. Against an old library background, a plate of brownies floats amidst a cloud of smoke. The Sapphic Sweets logo is also present.

This one was definitely inspired by this real life story for the non-Pittsburghers among us.

Val’s on their way to graduating college in the spring Maxima Cum Laude, from the Honors College at the University of Pittsburgh — and this year, they sent their regrets to their family. They’re spending their winter break on campus to prepare their Honors Thesis. Their peace is soon interrupted when, while researching at the Carnegie Library, they realize that countless pages, maps and illustrations have been stolen from the rare books section! When they tell the cute, stoner librarian, it becomes clear that there’s some kind of larger conspiracy, and it’s going to take all of Val’s arcane academic knowledge and the librarian’s copious stash of weed to catch the book thief. Forget your homework and curl up with this dark-academia-aesthetic-stoner-sapphic-nonbinary-cozy-mystery-thriller instead.

Contains recipes for pot brownies, pot blondies and THC-laden banana bread.


The Price of Salted Caramel by Morgan Claire

The cover of the Price of Salted Caramel by Morgan Claire features a snowy New York city background with a lit christmas tree. Against the background is an illustration of a woman wearing a white fur coat over a red dress. The fur coat is splashed with blood. She also is wearing red lipstick. The title of the book is set against a transparent strip of camera film and an illustration of a gooey salted caramel is off to one side. The sapphic sweets logo also appears.

Illustration via CSA Images / Getty Images

It’s a cold night when lonely housewife Belle discovers too late that she burnt her Christmas pie. After she scours the streets of New York City for a bakery that’s open on Christmas Eve, she manages to push her way through the door of what must be the last open bakery just as a gorgeous young woman is trying to flip the sign from open to closed. She has a single apple pie with salted caramel left. After heading home with the pie, Belle gives into her despair. It’s the 1950s and lesbianism, well, it’s barely spoken about, but Belle has her suspicions about herself, her feelings and desires. Now, she’ll never see that young woman again — or that would be the case, except that young woman, Jean, isn’t just a bakery assistant, she also pays her rent as a crime scene photographer. Their worlds collide — Belle’s high society life and Jean’s working girl world — when they meet in front of a gruesome murder scene, Jean as photographer, and Belle as suspect. Belle and Jean are going to have to work together to prove Belle’s innocence, or at least her innocence when it comes to murder — because she’s certainly gay-uilty of harboring feelings for Jean.

Contains recipes for five vintage desserts — and three of them are aspics!


Gelt and Guilt by Sarah Schuster

Chocolatier Talia can trace their craft back through their family line to their Jewish ancestors who fled the Portuguese inquisition and settled in France, where they went on to make chocolate for centuries. Now, settled in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, Talia has been running their own specialty chocolate shop since their 20’s. It’s going to be one of those years again, when their birthday falls just before Hanukkah, and despite the fact that their wife begged them to take the day off so they could celebrate Talia’s 35th birthday together, Talia’s determined to do what they do for every Hanukkah — make batch upon batch of their famous hand-poured gelt and latke chocolate bonbons. This is one of their biggest times of the year and they just wished their wife understood! The season gets busier, though, when their grandmother gives them a call to check in and shares something that’s been going on with all her friends. Someone’s been stealing the identities of unsuspecting grandmothers throughout the neighborhood, and it doesn’t take long before Talia starts to suspect the culprit is their evil ex! Can Talia do it all — make enough chocolate, team up with their grandmother — bubbie-cop style — to save her friends’ identities, confront their ex and spend quality time with their wife?

Contain’s Talia’s recipes for dark, milk, and white chocolate gelt as well as latke bonbons (they taste kind of like chocolate-covered potato chips)!


Last Will and Test Kitchen by Jenny Lee

The cover of Last Will and Test Kitchen by Jenny Lee which features a red ribbon over a background of almonds. On a little sticky note, text reads "Contain's Anna's recipes for almond cookies and strawberry shortcake. PLUS Sam's recipe for leek and mushroom morning after omelettes" and there is also a cheeky looking skeleton on the note. The sapphic sweets mystery logo is also present.

In case you’re ever trying to remember, arsenic is the tasteless one, the one that tastes like almonds is the other one.

As the Lunar New Year approaches, the orders for Anna’s famous almond cookies roll in. She’s busy preparing her Toronto-based bakery for the holiday rush, creating some content for her TikTok — and trying not to freeze her butt off in the frigid Canadian winter — when she happens to run into her ex from high school, Sam. They broke up because Sam wanted to be out and Anna just wasn’t ready. But now, Anna’s in her forties and she couldn’t care less what other people think of her — and Sam, well, they’re hot, like silver fox hot. Sam agrees to meet Anna for a coffee (second chances may be in the air!), but when they arrive at the cafe, something’s not quite right. When the neighborhood gossip tells them the shop’s closed because the owner died under mysterious circumstances — and her daughter, Sam and Anna’s high school bully — puts the shop up for sale even before the funeral, they start to suspect this death might not have been by natural causes. The pair investigate, following a trail of cookie crumbs that take them across the city in search of a lost will and testament, a coroner who doesn’t want to be found, and rumors that the coffee shop owner smelled like almonds after she died. And if they don’t solve this mystery soon, Anna just might have to enlist Sam’s help fulfilling all her cookie orders! (I mean, she was going to do that whether or not she needed help. She can’t let a silver fox like Sam go, no matter how many murders are happening in the neighborhood!)

Contains Anna’s recipes for almond cookies and strawberry shortcake and Sam’s recipe for leek and mushroom morning after omelettes (they don’t bake).


T 4 Tea 4 Trouble by Oliver Crumbwell

The cover of T 4 Tea 4 Touble by Oliver Crumbwell features a trans man and trans woman. The man looks thoughtful and is wearing a floral shirt. The woman is laughing and has very large earrings on. A cup of tea with a dessert floats in the foreground. The sapphic sweets logo is also present.

Fun fact: I can’t drink tea. It exists only in the realm of fantasy for me.

Vincent finally feels like his life is on track. He’s 38, his mum’s finally come round on his transition, he has a hilarious and supportive group of friends and he’s just opened up his very own tea shop in a cozy space with excellent foot traffic in London, UK — just in time for the holidays, too! Even though Garnet — the beautiful baker he hired to create sweets for his shop — gives him so many butterflies he’s broken three tea cups by accident just in the first week, he feels stable enough to handle having a crush this devastating. However, things don’t go exactly as predictably as pudding for Vincent and Garnet. The shop isn’t running for a month when valuable gems, jewels and jewelry start to go missing all over London — from wealthy financiers, TERF-y socialites and even the British Royal Family’s collection. Vincent doesn’t think much of it until he goes to make a payment on his shop’s loan and finds it was paid off by a mysterious benefactor. Soon, queer and trans-owned businesses across London start receiving Christmas gifts of cash from an anonymous source. The water starts to boil, though, when a famous author’s blood diamond collection goes missing and she enlists her horde of Twitter followers to find the person responsible. Vincent has his suspicions as to the identity of the jewel thief, but the real question for him is — if he uncovers the thief’s identity — will he turn this modern day Robinhood in, or will he want to tea-m up?

Contains three of Garnet’s recipes for chocolate-dipped shortbread biscuits, jam roly poly and steamed plum pudding.


The Death Knell of the Bûche de Noël by Goldy Raven Wolfe

The cover of the The Death Knell of the Bûche de Noël by Goldy Raven Wolfe. It shows a witchy looking woman in a dark, snowy wood, unsheathing a ritual knife. A Yule Log cake floats in the air above. A black cat with glowing yellow eyes appears in the corner. The sapphic sweets logo is present.

I really like how it looks like she is going to cut the Yule Log mid-air.

Vera Love knows three things about herself; she’s a naturally gifted witch, she’s an accomplished baker — and she’s been a single lesbian so long she’s started to doubt that cupid’s arrow will ever turn her way again. While preparing her bakery and its prominent witchy altar for Yule — complete with a Mary Lwyd display with an ethically sourced horse skull — an attractive stranger wanders into her shop. Vera considers whispering a little something over their coffee or writing her name and number on the side of the cup, but chickens out of both. As the stranger disappears into the snow with her coffee and warm cinnamon bun, Vera tells Mary Lwyd that this is why she’s single — it doesn’t matter how much magic she has on her side if she’s never willing to take a chance. The next night, however, at a dessert catering job at the biggest house in town, where Vera’s brought several of her locally famous Yule Logs, she runs into the stranger again and has to face that this is, indeed, a serious crush. She barely has time to ruminate on her crush however, when one of the party guests, the patriarch of the family, suddenly and mysteriously falls dead, sending the party into disarray. Several of his relatives are convinced foul play is afoot, but no one, except perhaps Vera, saw anything. Now, it’s up to her to retrace her steps and replay the night over and over, searching for clues. It definitely helps that her crush is just as invested in discovering the truth as she is — and is open to leaning on Vera’s divination skills, among other things. Will Vera find the proof in the holiday pudding or will the killer get away with their sleigh?

Contains Vera’s Yule Log recipe as well as her instructions for creating various delightful holiday shapes out of marzipan, from holly to pentagrams that look like they’re woven from mistletoe! Vera’s recipes for evergreen tree cupcakes and special wassail are also included with magically illustrated instructions!


And Then There Were Fruit Cake Crumbs by Agatha Swiftie

the cover of "And Then There Were Fruit Cake Crumbs" by Agatha Swiftie. features a collage of eight different individual queer people and two photos of the central queer couple. the queer people represent a diverse range of ages, gender presentation, ethnicities and fashion choices. The sapphic sweets logo is present.

This cover has made me nostalgic for an indie movie that doesn’t exist.

Every year, Angela and Elspeth throw the biggest, loudest, fruitiest queer potluck on New Year’s Eve. They’re the couple that hosts. It’s just their thing. This year, when a mysterious fruit cake shows up, no one takes credit for it despite the thing being absolutely delicious. It’s when someone pulls a human finger out of their slice that Angela and Elspeth lock the doors of the house and forbid their guests from leaving so they can get to the bottom of this holiday faux pas. Who baked the cake? Who’s been murdered? And is the murderer among the queer partygoers? The kombucha hasn’t even gone flat, the clock hasn’t even struck ten, and the group has to solve the murder mystery — but the most compelling question of all might be, will their tight-knit friend group survive this shocking violation of boundaries?

Contains THREE potluck recipes: Elspeth’s eggnog recipe, Angela’s Glögg recipe, instructions for playing snapdragons, all plus the recipe for the fruit cake — minus the human meat!


I also just made up a publisher out of whole cloth. And so, this post was brought to you by Sapphic Sweets Mysteries.

feature image shows the logo for "A Sapphic Sweets Mystery" the words "A Sapphic Sweets" are in rainbow curly font and "Mystery" is in a murderous red font. There is also a line of rainbow cupcakes. To the left of the logo is a skull with a santa hat on and also a cake with a knife stabbing in the center


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Nico Hall

Nico Hall is Autostraddle's A+ and Fundraising Director, and has been fundraising and working in the arts and nonprofit sector for over a decade. They write nonfiction and personal essays and are currently at work on a queer fiction novel. They live in Pittsburgh with their partner, Sadie. They are also a gardener, project queer, witchy/wizardly human and are currently mourning their lovely senior rescue dog. Nico is also haunted. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram as @nknhall.

Nico has written 128 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. The idea of fictional fiction is too cute! Can we have another helping of this genius concept in the near future please, Nico? I also deeply appreciated the trans & non binary representation!

  2. bubbie cop style 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 how excellent.

    I have never ever heard of this genre before (mysteries + recipes + holidays??) and so the entirety of this article felt kind of like I was having a stroke or perhaps experiencing a fever dream. I want to read T4Tea4Trouble so badly now!

  3. you spoil us, really. if you want to keep going “the one who bakes the cookies” has real “the hand that rocks the cradle” energy as a title, js

    also is the carnegie library that incredible gothic cathedral-esque library at pitt? i interviewed for a job there years ago and while the department seemed super toxic and i am glad to not have gotten the offer, that space is the one thing i regret not having a chance to be close to, holy shit

      • Yes! The Cathedral of Learning is where I took a good number of classes when I was in college. (Fun fact: some of the stained glass features angels holding books. The whole construction of the place is fascinating actually. The walls are insulated so that it always sounds more hushed than it might normally, for example.) But also, the Carnegie Main Library, where this “book” is “set” is also quite gorgeous, from that era where everything was done super ornately.

  4. Forget your homework and curl up with this dark-academia-aesthetic-stoner-sapphic-nonbinary-cozy-mystery-thriller instead.

    Jeeeeeeez so good! What an article! What a production! What a read! Give me Sapphic Sweets Mysteries I want them alllll

  5. Just saying that if AS was thinking about commissioning mysteries to post on their site, this A+ subscriber would be eager to read them.

    Also, it weirdly dawned on me how unrealistic mystery serials are because I have yet to help solve any real world crimes in my time on this earth.

  6. I am irrationally angry that these do not actually exist and am off to bully my author friends into writing every one of these immediately.

    I’m blaming you when they come after me for it. *wink*

    But for real. Why don’t more queer romances and cozy mysteries come with recipes (a la Sarah Addison Allen’s M/F magical realism books)?? Major oversight.

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